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Democratic Republic of Congo A country torn by War In October of 1996 an uprising in Eastern Zaire grew into a wider anti-Mobutu rebellion led by veteran guerrilla fighter Laurent-Desire Kabila He was leader of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo Kabilas army continued to grow and on May 16 1997 Mobutu relinquished power and fled the country Kabila then declared himself head of state and changed the countrys name from back to the Democratic Republic of Congo Soon after the fall of Mobutu Kabilas regime was facing widespread accusations of human rights abuses and corruption Uprisings in 1998 then plunged the country into another period of anarchy which was aggravated by the involvement of Uganda Rwanda and Zimbabwe On January 16 2001 Kabila was shot dead by one of his army officers To avoid another power vacuum Kabilas ministers decided to appoint Kabilas son Joseph Kabila as President of the Democratic Republic of Congo In order to have a better understanding of the conflicts taking place in that region today we must link it back to its roots in the 19th Century Zaires precolonial past is characterized by considerable complexity A diversity of social ethnic groups developed in Zaire ranging from small autonomous groups of hunters to centralized chiefdoms and large-scale state systems of the savanna from the settled village communities of the interior to the predominantly Muslim and Arab trading communities in the east The first known inhabitants were the pygmies People from other parts of Africa began to move into the area about 2000 years ago and in the 1400s several separate states such as the Kongo Kuba Luba and Lunda developed in the savanna It was around 1482 that Portuguese seamen along with Diogo Cam a Portuguese explorer began stopping at the mouth of the Congo River and that Portugal established diplomatic relations with the Kongo kingdom it was the Portuguese
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